- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 26, 2006

Time seems to have stood still for Clifton, set back in a sea of trees about 300 feet from New Hampshire Avenue. A plaque at the entrance gate announces the Silver Spring property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

John Thomas and his wife, Elizabeth Snowden, both from Quaker families with a large amount of land in the area, built Clifton in 1742. The home stayed in the Thomas family until 1958. Its current owners purchased the house in 1966 and have meticulously cared for the home without disturbing any of the original details right down to the doors, plaster walls, floors and woodwork.

The house, offered at $1,295,000, has received numerous awards for restoration. The proud owners have graciously hosted candlelight tours for school fund-raisers.

Said to be the oldest intact home in Montgomery County and one of the oldest and most important historic homes in the region, the house is Flemish bond-style brick — alternating brick headers and stretchers — with segmental arched windows, slab chimneys, a gambrel roof and shed-style dormers.

Maple trees that are more than 100 years old flank the property. A tree at the home’s circular drive entrance supports a swing. The property includes almost 5 acres and features a spacious guest cottage, two-story bank barn and an in-ground pool.

There are several entrances into the main house, including one to the side of the home that the owners call the funeral door, referring to the superstition that it was bad luck to carry a corpse out of the front door. The funeral door would be the door to use if there were a death in the home.

Large-scale 10-panel doors are found at the home’s entrance and foyer hall. These doors feature unique black iron hinges that form the shape of the letters “HL.” The owners say they were told the letters stood for “Holy Lord” and were meant as a blessing. The house just breathes history. The owners point out initials etched on a window and carved on the cellar doors.

Tall windows and 10-foot ceilings are found throughout the house. The grand entrance hall boasts the original staircase railing, while the wide plank pine floors add character to the four-bedroom house.

Directly beyond the tall door is a comfortable room that the owners use as a study or home office. This room has a door that leads to the back yard and offers pleasant cross-ventilation when left open along with the entrance and foyer doors.

The living room is the largest of the main-level rooms and comes with a built-in corner cupboard and 18th-century paneling around the fireplace. The living room fireplace is just one of six fireplaces inside the home.

In 1846, Thomas built a two-level addition that includes the dining room and kitchen on the first floor and two additional bedrooms on the second floor.

A smaller dining room, adjacent to the study, stands in the original portion of the home. This room has a floor-to-ceiling built-in china cabinet and chair-rail moldings. A doorway from this room leads into the “newer” 1846 wing of the home, where there is more space to dine for larger gatherings of family and friends.

The addition features a hand-hewn timber beam ceiling. The timber came from the farm. Exposed brick from the original 1742 home now serves as one of the interior walls in the dining room.

The dining area boasts views and two entrances from both the front and back of the home, which offers cross-ventilation when the doors are left open.

Updated in 1975, the kitchen, with vinyl flooring and a double oven, has been modernized compared to the rest of the home.

Stairs to the second-level split at a landing to approach the spacious second-floor foyer from either side. Two bedrooms and a full bath are in the original portion of the home. The addition mirrors the first-level wing in size and includes two more bedrooms, another full bath and a convenient laundry room.

The main bedroom has two dormer windows, a ceiling fan and wood floors. A sitting area with built-ins is outside one of the bedrooms, creating an inviting space to read and relax. The owners added a cedar closet and a roomy second-floor laundry area.

A large attic is easy to reach and makes for a convenient storage. More storage is available in the cellar, accessed by a hidden door in one of the main-level powder rooms.

Beautifully landscaped, the home offers a secluded patio outside the dining room, ideal for scenic and serene entertaining. The owners have an herb garden right around the corner.

In addition to restoration and renovation awards, Clifton has also been included in the Historic American Buildings Survey, with drawings at the Library of Congress, and has been recognized by the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission.

Address: 17107 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20905

Community: Snowden Manor

Age: Built in 1742

Price: $1,295,000

Lot size: 4.64 acres

Square footage: 3,000 square feet in the main house

Taxes: $5,466 in 2005

Exterior features: Tidewater Georgian Style, brick imported from England, gambrel roof, shed dormers, guest cottage, two-story barn, in-ground pool, fencing, patio, herb garden

Interior features: Four bedrooms, two full baths, two half baths, home office, sitting room outside of bedrooms, second-floor laundry, cellar, original pine floors, 18th-century paneling, double oven, attic, detailed woodwork, French door, 10-foot ceilings

Amenities: Six fireplaces, built-ins, cedar closet, ceiling fan

Schools: Cloverly Elementary, Farquhar Middle, Blake High School

Close by: Hampshire Greens golf course, shopping, restaurants, recreation

Open house: By appointment only

Contact: Gary Gestson of Long & Foster Real Estate Inc., 301/212-4604

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